Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Speed Brew

Kristen made plans for New Years and I'm running low on hoppy session beer so I am going to run a quick experiment on speed brewing this Saturday. I'm still working out the hop schedule, but I'm basically going to brew a similar beer to the SMaSH APA that I'm drinking right now. Kristen loves this beer, but I don't have any more Summit hops on hand so what I think I'm going to do for this 10 gallon batch is either use an all Munich or all Maris Otter base to get me around 1.045, first wort hop with either Cascade or Centennial, a small 60 minute addition of Magnum or Columbus, load up at 10 minutes and flameout with Cascade and Centennial (I'm thinking 3 ounces at each time?), then keg hop with Columbus.

The catch is that this needs to be in the keg ready to drink on New Years Eve, so if I brew on Saturday I've got 12 days from grain to glass. The current plan is to mash around 148 and pitch US-05 at around 62 degrees. I'll keep it cool for the first 24-48 hours to keep it clean, then slowly raise the temp so that I hit 68 or 70 by the 5th or 6th day. I'll probably keep it warm for a few days to make sure the yeast clean up after themselves, then cold crash it in the garage for a couple more days, possibly with gelatin, then keg and force carb on the 30th.

What could possibly go wrong?

In other news, the keg of Belgian Golden Strong that I fermented with the Unibroue strain is still not clear! Starting to get frustrated.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Belgian Golden Strong Update

I finally got around to sampling the progress of my 10 gallon batch of Belgian Golden Strong last night. Here was the recipe:

25 lbs Castle Pils
5 lbs table sugar
5 oz Czech Saaz @ 90

The OG came in at 1.076 (low efficiency still) and around 30 IBUs, I'll have to check BeerSmith for the exact number. I split the batch between two fermenters and fermented both with Wyeast VSS strains from earlier in the year. I pitched WY3739 Flanders Golden Ale (rumored to be the Gulden Draak strain) in one and WY3864 Canadian/Belgian Ale (the Unibroue strain) in the other. I pitched big starters of both at 64, where it stayed for a day or so before active fermentation began, then I let the temp free rise over the next few days to the low 70s, then turned on the aquarium heaters and slowly ramped up until the heaters were maxed out at around 80. I kept them there for the next 2 weeks or so (about 3 weeks at high temps total), then turned the heaters off and let them rest for another week at cellar temp, which is around 63 right now.

The Flanders Golden finished at 1.002, making the ABV 9.6%. It tasted dry (duh), but the alcohol was very obvious. I tasted and smelled some of the fruity esters and a bit of spicy phenols, but because the sample was warm and uncarbonated, this tasted more like a white wine than a beer. The alcohol, although it's not hot fusel alcohols, is too much in the front, so I decided that this one is going to stay in secondary at cellar temps for a while to round out a bit.

The Unibroue finished at 1.005, making the ABV 9.3% The sample was delicious already. Pear and apple aroma and flavor, a little bitterness to back it up, a little bready malt, delicious. Alcohol is present, which I expect in a 9% beer, but the other stuff isn't overwhelmed. This is getting kegged up in the next couple of days. Hopefully I've got enough tubing and fittings laying around so that I can use my other regulator and carb this up higher than my other beers.

I'm also thinking about entering some comps in the next few months. I'm really happy with my APA and Smoked Brown and want to get some feedback on my beers now that I'm building my water, controlling fermentation, and have gone AG. I'm looking at these comps in particular:

Big Beers, Belgians & Barleywines Festival

Upper Mississippi Mash Out

Great Northern BrewHaha

Durango, CO Ska Brewing Pro/AM

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Finally Made the Jump to All Grain!

The title says it all. I went with a cooler mash tun for batch sparging ala Denny Conn. I used a 70 quart Coleman Xtreme cooler, stainless braid, and ball valve for a 10 gallon setup. Pics are at the bottom. The first brew on my ghetto-fabulous rig was a Single Malt and Single Hop IPA (SMaSH). Here's the recipe:

24 lbs Weyermann Munich
1 oz Summit FWH
1 oz Summit @ 60 min
2 oz Summit @ 15 min
2 oz Summit @ flameout
1 oz Summit keghop (per keg)
US-05 yeast

Mashed at 150 for 60 minutes. I was shooting for an OG of 1.066 and 91 IBUs but ended up with only 1.048, putting my efficiency in the high 50s, not too good. Despite the low efficiency, the beer turned out really good! I think once I get a Barley Crusher and dial in my system I will rebrew this as a low gravity, highly hopped session beer. It's got tons of citrus (tangerine and grapefruit) hop flavor and aroma but thanks to the Munich base there's a solid malt background that still finishes dry. I really like this beer.

My second batch was another attempt at the smoked brown ale I brewed last November that was inspired by Red Hook Late Harvest. Although I got a different result with that brew, I ended up liking it a lot so I just modified the grain bill a bit (more rauchmalt, less roasted barley) and converted it to an AG recipe that looks like this:

20 lbs Rahr 2 row
3 lbs Weyermann Rauchmalt (beechwood smoked)
1 lb C60
.5 lb C120
.5 lb pale chocolate
.25 lb roasted barley
1.5 oz Magnum @ 60
2 oz Czech Saaz @ 15
US-05 yeast

I mashed this one at 150 as well. I was shooting for 1.068 on this but ended up with 1.056, so I did improve my efficiency slightly to 62%. I am really liking this beer as well. There's a hint of chocolate and coffee in there and the smoke is noticeable without being overwhelming, and there is just enough hop presence to balance everything out. I am quite happy with this beer as well.

Finally, I brewed a 10 gallon batch of Belgian Golden Strong. I mashed this one at 148 for 90 minutes and then did a 90 minute boil to drive off DMS because of the Belgian Pils malt. I split this batch between Wyeast 3864 (Unibroue) and Wyeast 3739 (Flanders Golden). Both of these strains were part of the VSS series. I pitched at 64 degrees and then ramped up over the next few days to about 80 degrees, which is where they sit right now. It's only been 2 weeks so I haven't taken a reading on these yet. Here's the recipe:

25 lbs Castle Pils
5 lbs table sugar
5 oz Czech Saaz @ 90

Pretty simple recipe! The actual OG on this one was 1.076 versus my target of 1.082, but my efficiency dropped back to the high 50s since I calculated this at 65%. Not sure what the deal is, since I double crushed the grain and thought I did a fairly good job measuring my volumes.

In other brewing news, I attended the AHA Rally at Surly Brewing with a couple of guys from RAZE back on October 10. Surly brewed what they called an Imperial Brown for the occasion and distributed 5 gallons of wort to over 300 homebrewers. In addition, we had the opportunity to drink free beer from Surly, including their freshly tapped Surly Wet, a wet-hopped IPA. I got to meet a bunch of guys from the Northern Brewer forum too which was icing on the cake. I just kegged this beer and so far it is tasting great. It was a big beer (OG 1.081) that I fermented with Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey yeast. I taste some dark fruit, alcohol warmth, and a little coffee and molasses. It will definitely get better with age.

Here's a few pics of the new AG setup:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Labor Day Update

Wow, haven't posted since July! Lots of beer adventures the second half of the summer, here they are in short form.

The kegerator is serving me nicely. The big July bash I threw definitely broke it in. We killed all 4 kegs of beer that night, so apparently a badminton tournament makes people thirsty. We also ate about 20 pounds of pulled pork the same day. Way to go team! I just recently upgraded to a 10 pound CO2 tank, so I should be able to go much longer without refills, although I managed to force carb and push 8 or 9 kegs, which makes me think I must have had a slow leak in my old setup.

Went to the Great Taste of the Midwest for the first time back in August and had an awesome time. Foley graciously hosted me so I got to benefit from his connections to the 3 Floyds and Bells crew the whole weekend. On top of that I got to see some old friends from high school, hang out with cousin Brian, and made some new friends as well. We started the festivities Friday night at the Capitol Chophouse with a 3 Floyds Brewing tasting dinner. This was probably one of the best meals I've eaten. The food was awesome and the beer pairings were perfect. After dinner we went to Maduro and had beers on the Bells crew. Got to talk to Larry Bell for a bit which was pretty cool. The next day we hit the fest. Highlights: not having to wait for Dark Lord at the 3 Floyds tent, Bells Golden Funk, the Real Ale tent, the list goes on and on. I had so many good beers there from so many different breweries. I left with tons of ideas for upcoming brews.

Entered my first contest, the Minnesota State Fair. I entered an American Pale and an Apricot Blonde in the Fruit category. As expected, I did not place the APA, but I actually came in second with my Apricot. Needless to say, I am pretty surprised. The fact that there were only 12 entries in that category probably helped quite a bit. I'm almost embarrassed that I won with a fruit beer because I only brew one a year when my raspberries come in, and this year I just decided to do a 10 gallon batch with raspberries in one half and apricots in the other after coming back from the Boundary Waters with a growler of Fitger's Apricot Ale. I entered just to get some feedback on the beers I had on hand, but they haven't sent scoresheets back unfortunately. I'll update when I get them.

The last 2 weeks of August we went to Colorado and managed to squeeze in some brewery visits. Our first stop was Fort Collins, so we had lunch at the Coopersmith Brewpub (awesome beer and food, good vibe), and then went to New Belgium for a tour. This is a great tour in an amazing brewhouse, take it if you ever got the chance. I got to sample La Folie right from the tanks, enough said. I picked up all of their Lips of Faith beers for the cellar too. After camping in Rocky Mountain National Park we cruised through Boulder and hit up Boulder Beer Company. I was severely disappointed. The people here were total pricks and not friendly at all. It got worse when we left there to hit the Avery Brewery and found out that the tap room is closed on Mondays. I almost cried. I felt much better when I found a liquor store and stocked up on all kinds of beer that I can't get here. Later on we hit up Wynkoop Brewpub in Denver, had an awesome meal and beer, and then went to the Falling Rock Taproom. This bar was absolutely amazing. I had Russian River's Blind Pig, RR Publication, then Duchesse de Bourgnone. I could've stayed there forever.

I'm hoping that coolers go on sale this week because I am planning on going all grain for my next batch. The plan is to go straight to 10 gallon batches. For my first batch I'm hoping to brew a SMaSH beer (Single Malt, Single Hop) with Munich and Summit. After that I think I'm going to do the AG version of my smokey fall beer from last year, and then probably a Belgian Golden Strong and ferment half with Unibroue yeast, and then the other half with Flanders Golden ale from Wyeast. I am also seriously considering going to the dark side and starting to brew some sour beers, but I need to figure out where I would store them. Someday....

The hop yard is doing really well, but I was plagued with aphids while we were in Colorado, so when I came back the Centennial and Zeus plants were pretty much overrun. I did manage to salvage a small amount of Centennial and even smaller amount of Zeus, but those 2 plants are pretty much wasted. Next year I am going to start treating as soon as the bines are up. For some reason my Cascade plant seems immune to aphids, so I have already harvested 1 pound (dry) and will probably be able to pull another half pound or more in the next week or so. It's a drag seeing all of those hops go to waste (I had at least a dry pound of Centennial and maybe even closer to 2 on the Zeus monster), but at least I know that I can grow them well in the garden. There's always next year.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's Finally Done!

Well, here it is, the new kegerator. It began it's life as your basic 7.0 cubic foot white GE chest freezer. I spray painted the sides and top with appliance epoxy and the front with chalkboard paint. The collar is 2x10 douglas fir finished with stain and 4 coats of poly, 4 of the new Perlick forward seals with stainless steel shanks, and a fifth keg of root beer on the hump. I must say thanks to the Northern Brewer forum for all of the ideas over the last year or so since I started kegging and immediately started planning the upgrade, especially chriscose from the "Post pics of your kegerator" thread. If you check his out you'll see the influence. Had a big party on Saturday to properly break it in and we managed to kill 4 full kegs and 20 pounds of pulled pork. At about 11 pm I actually lifted up a primary of APA onto the collar and siphoned directly into an empty keg of IPA. That APA now has 1 ounce of Amarillo keg hops (from the other APA) and a half ounce of Simcoe and half ounce of Amarillo from the IPA.

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's Brewing Season

After a long time with no updates, I've got lots of brewing news. We're hosting a party on July 11 so I've been trying to brew like a madman. I've also scored a new 7 cubic foot chest freezer (thank you Craigslist!) so I need to get 5 or 6 beers kegged to fill it. Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll be purchasing a temp controller, 5 or 6 Perlick taps, a few more kegs, and a couple of CO2 distributors. I've got a double distributor so the plan is to run my beers off one 5 way distributor and then run a 3 way distributor off the other regulator so I can have a line for a higher carbed beer, a soda, and one for utility cleaning and purging.

Right now I've got a Saison from the AHA Big Brew that I split with my friend Ryan from the RAZE homebrew club. I think I posted the Saison recipe already. I fermented this with WLP565, but had to finish it with US-05 because I couldn't get it below 1.016. After pitching the US-05 it dropped to 1.012. I was worried that it would finish too sweet but it still tastes fairly dry. It's been in the keg a couple of weeks now and it's coming around. Appearance wise it's straw colored, a little cloudy, and has a nice fluffy white head that sticks around for a while and leaves nice lacing. Aroma is yeast and mild pepper and fruit. It has a nice light body, despite the almost 6% ABV, nicely balanced bitterness, and a good mix of fruit and spice. Overall, pretty tasty, but I like Ryan's version a little better that he fermented with the French Saison strain from Wyeast.

I also kegged half of the 10 gallon batch of Hoppin Mad IPA that I brewed on Memorial Day. This beer is fresh, hoppy, and awesome! Here's the recipe for a 10 gallon batch:
  • 1 lb C60
  • .5 lb C120
  • .5 lb Vienna
  • 13 lbs Briess Golden Light DME
  • 1 lb sugar
  • 1.5 oz Warror at 60
  • .5 oz Warrior/1 oz Simcoe/1 oz Amarillo at 15
  • 1.5 oz Simcoe/1.5 oz Amarillo at 5
  • 1.5 oz Simcoe/1.5 oz Amarillo at flameout
  • .5 oz Simcoe/.5 oz Amarillo keghop

I brewed 10 gallons of Patersbier on Thursday morning that is now bubbling over thanks to the healthy repitch of Wyeast 3787 that I harvested from the cake of the first version of this beer. That brings my 2009 total to 70 gallons so far, which will hit 80 when I brew 10 gallons of APA with a mix of Centennial and Cascade sometime next week.

I also got the chance on Tuesday to help Tod Fyten of Mantorville Brewing Company brew a batch of Stagecoach Amber Ale. I met Tod when RAZE toured his brewery a couple of months ago. He mentioned increasing production over the summer and I volunteered to help, which I'm hoping to do once a week for the rest of the summer if we can get our schedules to match. Tod's a cool guy with many years of experience in the craft brewing industry and tons of connections, so listening to his stories was a good time, and it was really interesting to see the differences and similarities between the commercial and the homebrew process. There's definitely some homebrewer's ingenuity happening there. Plus, seeing 7 or 8 sacks of malt in a mash tun that wasn't even half full, 128(?) gallons of beer in the kettle, and giant bags of hops in the freezer was a pretty cool experience and definitely gave me the itch. Ten gallons just doesn't seem big enough now!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Man Down

Where did the last 2 weekends go and why did I not brew?  Kristen went to plant the big garden in Red Wing today and declared my Saaz and Horizon rhizomes dead, but she harvested a Cascade and a Centennial rhizome to put in the extra 2 mounds, so it would be nice to get a little extra production.  My new hop count is 2 Cascade, 2 Centennial and 1 Zeus.  The original 3 plants are all around 4 feet and growing strong.  While she was there, I finally knocked out a 10 gallon batch of IPA.  I went off of the grain bill for last summer's short lived Simcoe IPA (which only lasted 13 days in the keg) which was based on Tasty McDole's IPA on the Jamil Show.  The hop schedule was inspired by Surly Furious.  Here's the recipe:
  • 1 lb Caramel 60
  • .5 lb Caramel 120
  • .5 lb Vienna
  • 13 lbs DME
  • 1 lb cane sugar
  • 1.5 oz Warrior (60 min)
  • .5 oz Warrior (15 min)
  • 1 oz Simcoe (15 min)
  • 1 oz Amarillo (15 min)
  • 1.5 oz Simcoe (5 min)
  • 1.5 oz Amarillo (5 min)
  • 1.5 oz Simcoe (flameout)
  • 1.5 oz Amarillo (flameout)
  • 1 oz Simcoe (dryhop)
  • 1 oz Amarillo (dryhop)
I definitely put a dent in last weekend's birthday present to myself of a 50 pound bag of Briess Golden Light DME and 2 pounds of Simcoe, Summit, Amarillo and Centennial.  I've used the Simcoe and Amarillo combo before so I'm super excited about this one.  I'm going to dry hop with a half ounce of Simcoe and a half ounce of Amarillo, but I may do it differently when the time comes.  The OG was 1.066 and comes in at 79 IBUs.

On deck for next weekend (hopefully) is a 10 gallon batch of Patersbier for the summer.  That will make a great lawnmower beer.  Anybody else get some brewing done this weekend?

Monday, April 13, 2009

What a Weekend!

I had Friday and Monday off so I decided to get some brewing chores done.
  • On Friday I cleaned and sanitized 2 kegs, kegged my Patersbier, harvested the yeast from the Patersbier for a tripel I'll brew sometime, and built a 50 foot immersion chiller for less than 50 bucks.  Copper has gotten really cheap!
  • I spent Saturday and Sunday putting up the new hop towers, transplanting my Cascade, Centennial, and Zeus, and planting my new Saaz and Horizon rhizomes.  I used PVC for the towers, one tower per plant.  I sank a 5 foot section of 2 inch PVC into the ground, then put a 10 foot 1.5 inch pipe inside the 2 incher.  That gave me 7 feet above ground, so I added another 5 feet to get a total of 12.  Not super high, but good enough.  It does sway a little, but hopefully they'll stay standing in the wind.  I went with the individual towers because I thought this would be the easiest way to keep the different varieties separate.
  • On Monday morning I brewed my first 10 gallon batch, an APA.  Getting 12 gallons of wort to boil didn't take as long as anticipated, and I chilled to 52 in 25 minutes with my new ugly chiller (a little too cold!), but siphoning was a pain.  My burner stand isn't high enough to get a good siphon going so the large amount of pellet and whole hops kept stopping the siphon.  I'm going to get some concrete blocks to elevate my rig a little for next time.  I'm also looking into installing a ball valve, pickup tube, and thermometer.  Ten gallons took me about 4 and a half hours from dragging out my gear to putting everything away, but the siphoning and racking to primary took a half hour!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is It Spring Yet?

Since I haven't posted in awhile, here's a quick rundown of what I've been up to beerwise.
  • Kicked the Oatmeal Stout keg.  Overall this was a nice beer.  Good roasted barley character, a little toasted flavor, and a nice and smooth mouthfeel.  May have been just a bit too bitter, so I'll probably use a little less at 60 minutes.  While I enjoyed drinking this beer, I got a little sick of it by the end.  Not a real session beer.
  • Brewed the Double IPA with almost 2 ounces of Warrior at 60 to bitter.  I split 2 ounces of Simcoe and 2 ounces of Summit into three piles and added each pile at 15, 5, and flameout.  I was going to use the yeast cake from the VSS Imperial Blend but the starter beer I brewed and attempted to FWH for the first time, did it wrong, and mistreated the yeast somehow so it tasted too estery.  I just pitched 2 packets of US05 instead.  This beer did finish too sweet, so next time I'll use more sugar instead of malt to get it dryer, but it tasted drier than it measured.  At 10% ABV and 125 IBUs, this beer is really deceiving and dangerously drinkable.
  • Brewed a Patersbier with Wyeast 3787 and all Saaz hops.  I'm hoping to use the yeast cake for a tripel in a month or so.
  • I have converted my keg into a kettle, but I still need to clean it up and do a test run.  I'm not real confident in how fast I'll be able to boil with my current burner.  I think that I'll also probably need to build a new immersion chiller for 10 gallon batches, which reminds me that I need to do that soon since I'm having a Big Brew Day club event and was going to split a batch of Saison with a friend.  I'm thinking about giving the Brew in a Bag all grain method a try this summer once I finish the upgrade.
  • Last Saturday the RAZE club toured the Mantorville Brewing Company.  The owner, Tod Fyten, started as a homebrewer and gave us the full on beer geek version of the tour.  It was awesome!  He really had a lot of insight into the history of beer and brewing, especially in Minnesota, and also gave us a detailed talk of his brewing process.  We finished it off with some samples of his Maple Ale, Blonde, and Smoked Porter.  I got a growler of the Smoked Porter and had no problem finishing it. 
This weekend the club is meeting at a member's house to get rhizomes, but it's been pretty cold here lately so I think we might get frozen out.  I'd like to get the keggle cleaned up and do a test boil at some point too.  At some point I need to brew again too, probably an APA.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Time to try a bitter

I just got done making a starter for Sunday's brewday. I'll be brewing Jamil's Best Bitter (minus the aromatic malt since I'm mini-mashing with Maris Otter) and smoking a pork shoulder at the same time. Should be a good time. It's been a long time since I made a starter! I've been using US05 so much that I actually had to look back at an old blog post that I made about starters and check the Mr. Malty site. I ended up using Wyeast 1028 London Ale instead of the 1968 ESB that Jamil recommends but the LHBS doesn't stock it. Oh well.

RAZE meeting tomorrow night, woot! Lots to talk about too, upcoming brewery tours of Mantorville Brewing Company and Pearl Street Brewery, plan for the hopgrowing season, and figure out what we're doing for Big Brew Day. We've got more members trickling in, which is awesome since it's always good to talk to other brewers and beer geeks like myself. I must admit I'm also stoked that I'll be able to drink Hopslam on tap! I'm still trying to decide if it's worth dropping 16 bucks on a 6er, when I can just about brew 5 gallons for that, not a fine DIPA of course, but still, 5 gallons.

The Hopsicle IPA is tasting mighty fine right now. I just tapped the Oatmeal Stout and am drinking my first pint right now. It's a little young, but it's got a nice roasty chocolatey flavor with a little hop bitterness in the mix too. I'm happy! Here's the Hopsicle recipe (partial mash)if you're interested:
  • 3 lbs Golden Promise
  • .5 lbs C60
  • .25 lbs C120
  • .25 Vienna
  • 6 lbs Briess Pilsen DME
  • 1 oz Nugget @ 60 minutes
  • 1 oz Simcoe @ 15
  • 1 oz Centennial @ 10
  • 1 oz homegrown Cascade/Centennial/Zeus mix at 5
  • 1 oz homegrown mix at flameout
  • 1 oz Columbus dry hop

1.070 OG, 1.017 FG (a little high, but the bitterness balances it out), 77 IBUS, 6.9 ABV.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Trip to the Brewshop

It was a busy brew related weekend for me! I hosted the RAZE brewclub meeting at my house Friday night. Not everybody could make it but I sampled some awesome beers, saw a cool oxygen free beer transfer gadget, and talked a lot about brewing. On Saturday I took the fam to the zoo and then made a stop at Midwest Supplies. I grabbed a bunch of Warrior hops, some Summit and Strisselspalt hops, a bunch of o-rings, a good supply of US-05, a smackpack of one of the new Wyeast VSS releases (Imperial Ale - here), and a new book: Farmhouse Ales. Today was brewday, so I did a partial mash Oatmeal Stout. This was my first time brewing an Oatmeal Stout so I used Jamil's recipe from Brewing Classic Styles, although I did make a few minor changes based on what I had on hand. I also managed to rack my Hopsicle IPA into secondary on top of an ounce of Columbus hops. Now I'm relaxing with a homebrew.

I'm thinking I'm going to brew an Imperial IPA again pretty soon. I've got pounds of hops in the freezer and a fresh smackpack of the Imperial Ale yeast, so it is officially on deck. Rather than screw with a starter though, I think I'm just going to brew an APA with it and save the cake. I'll probably brew that next weekend and try out my new Warrior hops and possibly first wort hopping too. Three weeks after that I should be ready to brew the Imperial and have it ready for Kristen's birthday.

So for Christmas I got a 365 days of beer page-a-day calendar. Saturday's beer was Saison Dupont. Reading that got me fired up about saisons like Ommegang's Hennepin so I adopted another resolution for the year: learn how to brew a good saison. So far it's a pretty good read. I'm thinking about brewing my first one after the APA. EDIT: Monday I picked up a 4 pack of Ommegang Hennepin, a 750 of Saison Dupont, and Surly Cynic for research.

In other brew news, Kristen actually suggested that I get a propane hot water on demand system and build a small shed of some sort with a sink and stuff so that I can have everything I need on the brew patio and not have to make so many trips in an out of the house and back and forth to the garage/basement. I love that woman. I'm thinking an inline filter might be a good idea too. Any suggestions on what I should do?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Brew Year's Resolutions

It's hard to believe it's almost been a month since I last blogged! Despite the craziness of the holiday season, I did manage to keep brewing. Since my last post, I blew the Ahtnanum APA keg, blew the Red Hook Harvest clone experiment keg, brewed my version of Jamil's Evil Twin red ale, brewed Jamil's Irish red ale, brewed an IPA, and put off brewing an Oatmeal Stout so that I can recuperate today. Details about my brews:
  • Ahtanum APA: Bittered this with some Nugget then added 3 ounces late in the boil (1 oz each at 10, 5, and flameout). I used the same malt profile as usual for my APA (6 pounds Pilsen DME, .5 lb Caramel 60, .5 lb Carapils), but this beer was pretty blah. The Nugget did provide a nice clean bitterness, but the Ahtanum didn't provide nearly the citrus that I expected from reading the description. It tasted and smelled more flowery to me. It was still a good beer, but didn't really do it for me. I think I'll stick to Cascade and Centennial for my APA.
  • Red Hook clone: This beer turned out to not be real close to the original because there was too much roasted barley. However, I really liked this beer alot. It wasn't really a session beer, but it was a great fall or winter brew. This was probably one of the most balanced beers I've brewed so far. There was a nice roasty and smoky backbone to this one with just enough hops to balance it out. Style wise, I'm not really sure what this would be. I read the BJCP descriptions and it is really a toss up between a brown, red , or porter. I'm having a really tough time deciding whether I should brew this again next fall the same way or decrease the roasted barley presence a little.
  • Jamil's Evil Twin: I am not calling this Jamil's Evil Twin anymore since it wasn't hopbursted and I didn't use the same hops, so it is more inspired by his recipe. I am calling it Big Red because that's what it is, a big, malty, hoppy red ale. I used .25 oz of Nugget to bitter and then an ounce of Simcoe and Amarillo at 10 minutes and then again at flameout. This beer is GOOD! Nice deep red in color, awesome hop flavor and aroma, and good malt flavor to back it up without being too sweet. When I brewed this I was drinking and inspired by Widmer Brrr and Lagunitas Imperial Red, and I think I hit the mark on this one. It will be brewed again.
  • Hopsicle IPA: Named this one because I froze brewing it. This was a minimash with 3 pounds of Golden Promise just to see what would happen. Bittered this one with Nugget, then threw in some Simcoe, Centennial, and then the last of my hop harvest (a mix of Cascade, Centennial, and Zeus). This one will probably get dryhopped with Columbus.
  • Jamil's Irish Red: Kegging this one today, haven't tried it yet. I've got high hopes though!

After increasing my brewing skills and volumes over the last year, now I'm looking forward to 2009. Here are my brew year's resolutions in no particular order:

  • Brew more. I would like to be able to not buy beer anymore except for when I'm working on a recipe. I brewed over 100 gallons in 2008, hoping to do even more in 2009.
  • Move up to 10 gallon batches. I'm having a tough time keeping the kegerator full and I think this will help, especially now that I am brewing tried and true recipes that I know I will like.
  • Upgrade the kegerator. Hopefully by the summer I will have a chest freezer with a collar that will be capable of dispensing 4-6 different beers. Variety is good, but this might also make it easier for me to keep the kegerator full without brewing every other weekend.

Any of my huge volume of loyal readers out there have any resolutions, beer related or not?